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What’s your bench? You get asked this quite often, and depending on how many slabs of weight you put on the bar you may not want to answer. So how do you get your one rep max up there with the big boys.
Follow these four tips to improve your bench press:
Form Is Everything
It isn’t unusual to gain a quick 5-10% on your one rep max just by cleaning up your form. Follow these basic tips for good form:
- Keep you feet firmly planted on the ground. Don’t dance around while moving the weight.
- Use a natural arch on your back, but keep your butt on the bench.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together before picking up the bar.
- Check your grip width. Not too close, not too far.
- Squeeze the bar during the move. The tension will increase the transfer of force.
- DON’T use a suicide grip. Ever.
One good way to improve your bench press is by including pause reps into your routine. It “deadens” the weight at the bottom of the move as it sits on your chest requiring raw power to move the bar.
While using a weight you can move for 6-8 reps, lower the bar and let it sit on your chest for a one or two count. Then explode the bar off your chest. The reason you want to start with a weight you can move for 6-8 reps is because after three or four sets of this, you’ll find it much harder to complete strict pause reps.
As you move up in weight, nearing 80-90% max, you’ll want to have a spotter if you’re going to pause the weight on your chest. Otherwise you’ll be stuck there like a turtle on it’s back if you’re too fatigued to push the weight off.
Heavy Shoulder Press
There’s a very high correlation between gains on your barbell shoulder press and your bench press. Most, however, neglect hitting that personal one rep max on shoulder press. It’s just not a sexy exercise.
How often has someone asked you what you shoulder press? Not often right? But if you want to break through a plateau on the bench you need to push your shoulders with equal enthusiasm.
Max Rep At 100%
Bench is a clear favorite in the bodybuilding and power lifting community. It’s just fun to move huge weight and feel like a monster. It also means you’re likely to go into a max rep attempt at less than full strength.
One of the hardest things for any athlete to do, is NOT train. If you’re stuck on a plateau simply taking a week off to give your muscles and tendons time to fully recuperate can push you to the next level.